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Volume 8, Issue 1: Doctrine 101

Does God Exist?

Chris Schlect

In our last study we concluded from Acts 17 that there is a right and a wrong approach to theology. We must study God according to how He has presented Himself to us. It is improper and even sinful to approach Him in whatever way we please. With such a background we may approach the question of this second lesson: Does God exist?

Are we asking whether or not Zeus exists? or Allah? or the universe's First Cause? Or are we asking whether the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob exists? For now, let's agree to ask whether or not the God of the Scriptures, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exists. The existence of Zeus or Allah can be left to another discussion.
Still we must decide how to approach this question. After all, different kinds of questions require different approaches. Consider these examples: Is the Venus de Milo lovely? What is the square root of five? How heavy is my car? Are we having fish for dinner? None of these questions can be approached in the same way. A scale cannot tell me the square root of five, nor can it inform me about dinner. But it can weigh my car. So how do we approach the kind of question that is now before us: Does the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob exist?
Remember what we learned in the previous lesson about how to approach God. The subject of our present question is the God who said that He must not be put to a test (Matt. 4:7). He is the God who swore by Himself when making an oath to Abraham because there was no one greater for Him to swear by (Heb. 6:13). Fearing Him is the beginning of wisdom, He says, and in His Son dwell all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Pr. 1:7; Col. 2:3). So what sort of test will tell us whether or not He exists?
Some would try a scientific test. But subjecting God to such a test would make science out to be greater in authority than He. The god who could be subjected to scientific scrutiny is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Neither can logic decide whether He does or does not exist, for placing God at the end of a logical proof exalts logic over Him as the supreme authorityas an idol. Similarly, neither tradition, feelings, popular opinion, history, nor any other authority can settle the question of God's existence. For no court holds jurisdiction over God.
So we see that the question of God's existence is really a question about the fundamental nature of reality, the basic source of knowledge and the ultimate standard of goodness. It is a different sort of question than that which lawyers face when they argue in court, for lawyers on both sides appeal to the same standard, the law, to settle the question. But when people contend over God's existence, they argue over which standard should settle all questions.
The idolater submits to something other than God as supreme. If his authority is Reason, Reason governs his mind, telling it not to contradict itself. Are other people's minds bound to this law against contradiction? He cannot know. Is what his mind deems "reasonable" the same as what other people's minds deem "reasonable"? He cannot know. And what about moral reasoning? The idolator has no basis for imposing the mores of his Reason upon the mind of a hardened axe-murderer in whose mind murder is acceptable. The laws of Reason don't apply anywhere beyond one's own mind; they cannot be universal. Hence, by idolizing Reason, the idolater forfeits any sensible reason to think reasonably.
Suppose the idolater chooses Nature as his master. He calls his methods "scientific." He watches certain things happen over and over and over again, then he predicts the same outcome for the next turn. But he hasn't yet seen the outcome of this next turn, so he cannot really know that Nature will keep doing the same thing. He cannot know that Nature will do the same thing in his laboratory as it did in those of Galileo or Newton. He wants Nature to be uniform, but because he cannot see what it is doing everywhere in the past, present, and future, he cannot know that it is uniform. And what about morality? In Nature, whatever happens, happens. Hitler's genocide was no less the product of Nature's will than is a blooming flower in the springtime. According to Nature's law, a human heart has no more right to keep on beating than a bullet has to tear right through it. In idolizing nature, the scientist forfeits the very basis for scientific conclusions, and he precludes any kind of moral reasoning.
On the other hand, if we choose God, we can account for standards of reason and for the uniformity of nature. Because they reflect the coherence of God's thinking, every man's mind ought to submit to logical laws. Because God has promised to preserve the patterns of nature, we can expect nature to behave uniformly. Thus, reason and science make sense under God's authority. Apart from Him they are nonsense.
Likewise, moral standards make sense in a world governed by a good God who gives commandments in accordance with His just character. Apart from Him, morality is arbitrary and meaningless.
These considerations lead us to conclude that the proof of God's existence is that without Him nothing can be proven. Whoever claims that there is no God actually needs God to reason about his claim, for reason is futile without God. Only fools exalt reason as an idol above God, and in doing so, they kill reason.

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